Is ‘out of sight’ truly ‘out of mind’? That’s what many water experts in India believe when it comes to our groundwater. The fact is, as a country, we are greatly dependent on groundwater, being the largest users in the world. According to reports, at just over 260 cubic km per year, India uses 25 percent of all groundwater extracted globally, ahead of the US and China.Equally significant, 70 percent of the water used in agriculture today is groundwater.In fact, according to a report by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in 2012, 90 per cent of rural water and 48 per cent of urban water supply is sourced from groundwater resources. Thus, it is evident that groundwater is a lifeline for the country. That said, there is little understanding of the importance of groundwater, in both the policy and public spheres.
- We have reached 67,306 Households and Covered 29,843 Hectares of farmland.
- Increasing availability of healthy and quality food and safe water.
- Protecting soil, insect and animal bio-diversity.
- Enhancing farmer profitability.
Building capacity dissolves differences and irons out inequalities. These words by former Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam echo our philosophy at BRLF. With the capacity gap at the grassroots causing a chasm between outlays and outcomes, we have set up a capacity-building vertical for existing and aspiring rural professionals in the country. One of its initiatives is the Certificate Programme in Rural Livelihoods (CPRL).
BRLF has designed a unique and innovative training program called the Certificate Program in Rural Livelihoods (CPRL) to address the challenge of scarce trained human resources at the field level particularly focused on tribal areas. It is a six month residential training program with 16 different modules in rural livelihoods delivered by 15 knowledge partners across nine states of India. BRLF in collaboration with IIHMRU has successfully completed 4 batches of CPRL with a collective strength of 116 tribal students graduating under it. The first batch of CPRL started on 15th of November’ 2016, covering a journey of great learning and experiences across 13 locations in 7 states and it got completed on the 24th of May’ 2017. At the moment the fifth and sixth batch are in progress with another 58 candidates going through the course.
One proven climate adaptation strategy is the springshed approach, which combines landscape, watershed and aquifer management. With this in mind, in April 2017 BRLF launched the Jharnadhara project with the MGNREGA cell of the West Bengal and PRASARI in collaboration with the Advanced Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (ACWADAM) and with the funding support from Arghyam to undertake springshed development pilots with the assistance of civil society organisations (CSOs). The project aims to develop 616 springsheds in four districts—Darjeeling, Alipurduar, Kalimpong and Jalpaiguri—to revive 457 natural springs. (The majority of the springs are in Darjeeling district.)
Despite adequate rainfall the 4 districts of Northern West Bengal suffer from extreme water crisis. The pressures of urban demand as well as erratic effects of climate change have added to these water woes. BRLF has partnered with the MGNREGA cell of the West Bengal in collaboration with the Advanced Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (ACWADAM) to undertake the Jharnadhara Project. The project aims to develop 616 springsheds across the districts of Darjeeling, Alipurduar, Kalimpong and Jalpaiguri.
We at BRLF believe the Jharnadhara project will be an exemplar for states to fight this battle, armed with the power of civil society and the strength of local communities.